Saturday I facilitated a Spirituality of Gardening seminar at the Mustard Seed House. A small but extremely enthusiastic group gathered to discuss basics of organic gardening and how we encounter God in the garden. Towards the end of the day we talked about the current move towards faith based community gardens that are springing up literally all over the world as churches discover they can not only produce food for their congregations but also help feed those at the margins.
Sunday Tom and I drove up to Camano Island and then to Lynden Washington for some teaching venues. In our travels we participated in some exciting meetings that focused around our desire to develop a community on Camano that can both model and teach sustainable faith and sustainable life practices. Again the conversation turned to community gardens and the amazing movement that is gathering momentum and in many ways transforming our churches.
I do believe this is a move of God. In many cases starting a community garden is revitalizing churches as people from the surrounding community are drawn in to participate. In other situations it is strengthening community within the church and sparking off new ministries that are feeding the hungry and teaching basic life skills like cooking and canning to many who have never cooked from scratch before.
My friends at Five Loaves Farm in Lynden are receiving so many requests to help with new gardens it is hard to keep up. Even our good friend Graham Kerr, once known as The Galloping Gourmet, has become involved planting his own garden and working with his church at Mt Vernon on a huge garden project. Graham tells us that he has never before cooked anything he has grown or grown anything he has cooked and it is delightful to watch him enthusiastically discover the delights of this.
Another great encounter during this trip was meeting Rich Dixon from A Rocha an organization that is doing exciting work around the world to preserve God’s good creation and feed the hungry in the process. A Rocha Canada is developing a list of community gardens in Canada that is worth a look. And while I am talking about such things Beth Stedman just sent me a link to a fascinating site World Food Garden, that lists community gardens and CSAs all over the world.
Funny, but I think that many of us could miss being a part of this incredible movement of God’s spirit because we have preconceived ideas about what a movement of God looks like. Movements of God are about worship and professions of faith. Or we think they are about big numbers gathering together to worship. God’s spirit could not possibly be concerned about the development of a few square meters of garden in our church parking lots. Or could it?
It is my belief that God’s desire is to bring to wholeness all that is broken and scarred in our world. Above all God is in the business of restoring our relationship to him, our relationship to each other and our relationship to God’s good creation as well. Establishing community gardens accomplishes all of these.
So many sincere followers of Christ confess to me that they feel much closer to God in the garden than they ever do in a church. Which really shouldn’t surprise us as the first place we see humankind communing with God is in the garden as God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening.
Community gardening also strengthens relationships between people as they work together, eat together and just generally have fun together. In the garden it seems there are no barriers between young and old, rich and poor, male and female, white and non white. We are all one together learning to share life in a way that I think is part of God’s great plan for us.
And last but not least community gardening strengthens our relationship to God’s good creation, and draws us back to God’s original commission for humankind – to tend the garden and make it flourish.
So if you have not yet joined this movement maybe it is time that you thought about it. God is at work and we have the opportunity to join in the incredible things that God is doing.